This article is hard for me to write. As many may know my career has been spent working with individuals particularly women who have been victims of childhood sexual abuse, domestic violence and mental illness. One of my dreams is to open my own private practice particularly for this population. As of now I work with women who had significant sexual trauma histories. This week I find myself not being able to hold back tears as new revelations came out about one of my adult clients who we believe not only was molested all of her life by a relative, she may have been molested by a clergy member in her early adulthood (not substantiated but we suspect). The alleged clergy member had a long time history of this. I cried when I learned this news. Because my job is transitioning I will no longer be working with her.
But as I work with the women that I work with I can't help be grieved in my heart. All of the women that I have worked with in my entire career have disclosed of significant past history of sexual abuse as children. All of them would be classified as individuals who suffer with severe and persistent mental illness. I can't help but see the relationship between childhood sexual assault and severe mental illness. The things that I hear and see when working with this population go without say. Some things I could never repeat nor would I want to.
So as I hear of recent reports of individuals being molested by supposed powerful men of God. (no relation to my client) My heart is again grieved. I can't help but think of the ladies that I work with. Many of them have had psychotic breaks and suffered so much. No one heard their tears, no rescued them from their pain. Some adult or person in a position of high authority sexually abused them.
My heart is again grieved when after hearing these reports of individuals being molested how the church and so called bishops, apostles, pastors and so on use the scriptures to pacify abuse behind the pulpit. We use the scripture in Matthew 7:1 do not judge as a means to justify sexual abuse. It makes me think that when we think of the average man who is in prison for sexual assault most would think he should be there. However when you think of a pastor behind the pulpit molesting people somehow we assume he belongs there and no one should speak against him in judgment. Again folks John 7:24 says, "don't judge based upon appearance but judge with righteous judgment". Meaning use some discernment and don't be deceived based upon what you see. 1 Corinthians 6:2-4 says that saints will one day judge the world.
I never forget years ago while staying in my dorm in undergrad. My roommate would often say things against Christ and Christians. I was very shy and non confrontational at the time so I never stood up for Christians even though she was not talking about me she was talking about my heavenly father and His children. I didn't want to be mean or judgmental. After all I thought she had a right to her opinion even though her opinion was wrong. I went to bible study sometime later and a word came forth through another student who didn't know me never even spoke to me. She said, "When you don't speak up for God and His people God holds you responsible as if you were committing the act yourself". So it is when you don't speak out again the least of these you are offending God. Remember Saul who became Paul. He was persecuting God's people. The first thing God said to Saul when He got his attention was, "why are you persecuting me."
So yes we love the sinner, no matter what. But we do not justify the sin. Not speaking out against this form of abuse is sin. We are getting as bad as the catholic church with preachers abusing, molesting folks and no one speaking out against it. When great leaders in the kingdom don't speak out against the abuse, not the person, the act ,what happens to the victim is that it sends a message to the abuser that your okay and you can get away with this. It enables them to keep hurting people with no recompense. It also further damages the victim; they already have a skewed view of God being abused by someone who is supposed to represent God. It teaches the victims that your not worthy. It teaches them you don't matter. It is a shame when Christians protect the abuser and not the abused. I don't know about you but if any of my family members report being abused by a man of God or anyone for that matter I am going to be upset. Saved, Sanctified and Holy Ghost filled but very angry. We further dig ourselves deeper when we accuse righteous brethren who speak against these crimes against the body and humanity as being judgmental. I always say you can't pick and choose what scriptures you want to obey but all scriptures are for the up building of the body of Christ. All not some all.
My question is when people are trying to up build the leader, who will cry out for the victims? The victims belong to someone. They are someone's child, some mother suffered and gave birth to them. Some mother is crying out in disbelief because although this was not her fault she will bear the burden of feeling like she didn't do enough to protect her child. Some father cries out to God. Some victim questions his or her identity as a man and/or women.
Who is going to protect them? My heart is grieved. But I want to remind us of Ezekiel Chapter 2 & 3 read it in its entirety when you get a chance. God told, Ezekiel "don't be afraid of the people they are rebellious but speak My words, speak what I tell you anyway". He said, "if you don't I will hold you responsible. I will require your blood instead of theirs." Ezekiel 3:16-27 So it is today, for every leader or to be leader ask yourself this question: Is there blood on yours hands? Yes always show the love of Christ but we do not pacify the act. Most of all we do this in protection of our children.
I know that I am just a nobody, no one knows me, my name is not great. But I stand boldly and proclaim that sexual abuse is wrong! It is wrong. Domestic violence is not of Christ it is wrong! Any form of abuse is wrong!
As a therapist who worked with victims of these kinds of crimes. I know how hard it is for the victims to speak out. Some never because the shame and pain is to deep. But for those who speak out I say thank you for your courage. You are saving someone else from being hurt. When you don't speak out it brings the possibility that there could be more victims in the future and the abuser continues to abuse.
Yes, Christians. We love, We forgive. We don't justify. We pray for wisdom on how to respond. But we do not allow sexual abusers to run free around our children to be future victims. But most of all we pray. Pray for your children's protections. Pray even for the abuser. We don't sit in silence for our children to be preyed upon. Pray for wisdom on how to respond. If they don’t repent and get delivered to hell they will go. And to every leader who continues to pacify, justify and enable the abuser according to the whole word of God, hell will be their reward. Title and all.
P.S. for those of us who are therapist we are mandated by certain clauses of our licensure, state, federal laws and code of ethics to act as mandated reporters particularly to minors and those found to be incapable of speaking out on their own. (for example victims who has deemed incompetent by the courts)
We also act as mandated reporters to individuals who we suspect are in imminent danger of being hurt or hurting someone else. (Tarasoff v. The Regents Supreme Court California 1976)
If you are a licensed individual you should know this but see your licensure, governing body and code of ethics.
Samaria Colbert © 2010